tv [untitled] April 27, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm EDT
particularly people like sma, sharaa mohammad assad, has influence over the government officials who are now in the process, inappropriately, of appointing leaders in the various districts and provinces. they say, i'm going to pull this governor out, in kaji ki for example, because he's not doing what i'm asking him to do. all of a sudden, somebody comes in and it becomes a district governor and you find out his last name is akanazada. it's because they've influenced the decision process. the constitution that was drafted for afghanistan is if you read it is similar to what the united states looks at. passing control to the states. less powerful central government. what we're seeing right now in
afghanistan is that that constitution has not been fully enacted. that the district and local levels where there are elections show some progress, particularly in helmand, we've had some good success there, the central government still doesn't truf the local leadership. they want to appoint their own people. i have had three regional chiefs of police in helmand province. you build a relationship with one. he's pulled out because he's not doing what he's being told to do. somebody else comes in there. what we really need to do is stop central government's meddling in the local politics. the only way you're going to make a difference in afghanistan is to allow the local districts and provinces to control their own fate. but there isn't that degree of faith yet in the central government. they don't feel comfortable in doing that yet.
it's going to come. but that's how i think you limit the impact of the senior level influence on -- negative influencers on afghanistan, in helmand province for example. the second part of your question is a lot -- more important and certainly something that at the provincial level impact. that is how do we support the afghan national security forces in maintaining stability and maintaining control in the province. first of all, you would be amazed at the wonderful strong relationships that, you know, everybody from pfc up to colonel have built with the afghan security forces. when i left, i mean, you would
have -- i would have thought i was leaving my family. it just was -- you know, it was a pretty moving experience. and so after a year of sharing hardships, explosions, casualties, positive elections. i mean, all the good things. we have built a pretty strong bond. and that needs to continue. now, obviously, there's threats to that. and as you know, we have had to deal with some of the insider threats that exist in afghanistan. and if you would leave it to the media that maybe plays up this insider threat greater than it really is because i can for every one insider threat issue i can tell you there's a hundred events that are created a strong
bond. but that's the key. is keeping that bond with the afghan national security forces. and that trust and that faith. and they'll stand up for their own. >> thanks, general, for that answer. yes, in the back. >> thank you so much. my name's christina wong from "the washington times." general, u.s. troops are expected to consolidate in the south and focus more on the east. as far as you know, what will consolidation look like? can you talk a little bit more about how you transition from a combat mission to an advisory mission will look like. and what do you expect for the spring fighting season? and how do you expect that we will be able to hold gains that we've mailed in the south. thanks. >> very good questions. i spent -- i worked hard over this past year to convince my leaders that the insurgency in
the south is the greatest threat to the government of afghanistan. and if it should strengthen, that will provide a greater threat or the greatest threat to the afghan government. i say that because currently the south is the main effort. the preponderance of resources, et cetera, is in the south. we need to maintain the pressure. the pressure in the south, we can't let it up. as we're drawing down on forces, we are also drawing up on afghan national security forces capabilities. capacity. getting the numbers up. most importantly, their will. those three elements of the afghan security forces are on a
rise. somewhere in the middle is a sweet spot. i think we're there. but what we don't want to do is change that main effort till after this season. now, i don't like using the term fighting season. because i think to my commanders hey, don't say fighting season because the cg doesn't like it. but there's like a little psychosis there and we use this term fighting season as if we're giving up the initiative to the insurgency, because we haven't. we look at it more as a sort of a poppy cycle. i think the recent incident in kabul where we've had some attacks, very weak. the afghan security forces were able to stand up to that pretty easily.
last season in the harvest season, may 17th was this big published date. they were going to come out and it was really going to be big. it was a whimper. so, i mean, i really do believe the insurgents cannot introduce any type of complex attack. the most complexity you're going to see is up in kabul. it's not going to happen down in helmand province. just because they just don't have that capability. they don't have the leadership. they don't have the capability to orchestrate that kind of an attack. they don't have the capacity because the number of insurgents are not the same as they were two years ago. so i believe that this -- and we'll see pretty soon because the harvest is about to begin. it will take another 30 days. i do believe the afghan national security forces, with their strong capability of gathering intelligence at the human level,
that it's a very powerful intelligence, and they'll know ahead of time. and then you combine that with the support of the local nationals. it's going to be very hard for them to swim among the local nationals. because they're not getting the support. so i believe that -- and we'll see. if it's correct, what will happen, though, going back to your first question, is as the main effort does shift, because the hakani network has gotten a lot of attention. the hakani network is a network that really operates to maintain itself. doesn't have that grand design. and, you know, as the insurgency goes, the hakani network goes. if you keep a lid on the insurgency, the hakani network isn't going to be as all powerful as some talk it up to be.
yes, they do operate. khost and other places. that's where they want to shift the main effort to. but this post-harvest season, we'll see. and i think what we'll find is we'll be able to hold the line. and then maybe make that shift next year. >> thanks, general. in the back. >> thank you. sidney freedburg, aol defense. having talked to a lot of young officers and ncos back from both wars, i'm curious, you know, address for a moment the young marine leaders that have served with you, you know, they've been, you know, doing all this coin but were drawing down, the national strategy says, you know, no more prolonged coin. shift, pivot to asia, partnership building. the corps itself is trying to
get back to its maritime and expeditionary routes and everything is drawing down, including the number of personnel. to a young marine, lieutenant, captain, sergeant today what do you say about -- why is there experience of the last decade relevant? how are they going to have to adapt? why should they stay in when everything's changing radically? >> that's good. i've had those kinds of discussions recently as i've returned with a lot of our younger leaders and marines. and i will say coin is a complexion type of fighter. some people tend to think it's all about okay clear, hold, build. and then the job is done. what we're doing right now -- and this year is critical to the transition -- is we're not
necessarily changing the mission in afghanistan. but we're changing -- we're walking into the final phase of a counterinsurgency. which is to advise and train. se the indigenous forces, the security forces up for success. so the mission is not changing. we have trained our guys to understand that in a counterinsurgency, you can't win a counterinsurgency with coalition forces. you got to win it with indigenous forces, and they know that. they know their mission is support and back up the afghan security forces. so we're following through in that coin mission. all the way to the end. and i think although 2014 looms out there as being the end of the counterinsurgency, the final phase is that support phase, which we haven't really put a
descriptor on exactly what's going to be left, but there will be things left after 2014 that will continue to support the afghan security forces. you're absolutely right. in the fact that for the past ten years, we have concentrated on, you know, the fight in afghanistan and iraq. it has been a counterinsurgency. it has required different skills of our marines. particularly i think, you know, we've concentrated on the operations on the ground in iraq and afghanistan. and we haven't conducted as much amphibious operations as you alluded to. areas we might be returning. although i will say one of the more successful amphibious operations was in 2001 where we
did go in afghanistan and we moved personnel and equipment over 400 miles to afghanistan. but there will be some shifts. also, too, we are losing -- we will be losing marines and soldiers and sailors who basically have ph.d.s in counterinsurgency right now. they understand it. they get it. they're good at it. and they like it. and they're effective. as we draw down, we will lose some of those guys. i think what we have learned is in a counterinsurgency there are some basic principles that apply across the board. we realize those fundamentals we can never lose. certainly as a marine, being an expeditionary force and being able to operate in helmand province without a big huge footprint.
sometimes it requires a little bit of discipline. say, okay, guys, we're not going to put in that green bean mr. coffee guy because we don't really need it. as a matter of fact, let's close this down and let's live over there with the afghans in their facility. we're doing more and more of that. it's getting to that expeditionary low footprint mode. >> if i could ask a follow up. we had the news of the u.s./afghan partnership agreement, which i understand was a very broad agreement, over the weekend. which as i am to understand will hopefully lead to a more specific agreement that's hammered out with the afghan government on the nature of our military partnership and our security relationship. here at the atlantic council, we are looking at the nato summit in less than a month in chicago. where afghanistan will be one of the primary if not the primary agenda item. and we've had some headlines
over the last couple of months of what it looks like some key coalition and ally contributors coming out a little bit early with the uk -- or maybe it wasn't the uk but certainly france and we've heard about australia and others. and so the question i have is from your point of view. i mean, how -- what's sort of the plan, you know, for this transition? what partners do you see as key potentially going forward if you're allowed to be that specific. and for my view, what's the key strategy, again if you can be that specific, you know, till the transition in 2014 and then afterwards? because i think that's the part that's missing. we've had a lot of time phased announcements. but i think more importantly is what's the strategy guiding our footprint and our activities going forward? because this is going to have to be a long-term partnership. we're in places like bosnia still, you know, many, many years after the fact. so we should certainly begin to set the expectations of the american people and of the
populations and of the allied and coalition contributing nations as well. if you have any thoughts on those issues, it would be great to hear. >> i think someone said it's -- coalition warfare is very difficult. but it's even more difficult without coalition forces. and so the reality is that we need to all learn and be better at conducting coalition operations. for me, it was a tremendous learning experience as the commander of coalition forces. 'cause, as many of you know, i tried to put on the film, we had brits, danes, georgians, jordanians, uae, it was a huge coalition force. and when you find their niche, what they contribute best and you integrate it, it really makes a difference. so the challenge for general
allen, and he has reminded the regional commanders that there really isn't anything more important than keeping this coalition together during this entire operation, till the end. and it hurts when a country like france, for example, says, out east, after an insider event, when several french soldiers were killed is, okay, we're out of here. because, you know, that registered a "w" for the insurgency. it's very powerful when a coalition partner like, for example, the uk, steps up and says "we're here, we're here to the end." "oh, by the way, we're not reducing our forces." because the uk is only going to reduce their forces by about 500 over the next year. which is very small. so, i mean, that's helpful. that serves as a great statement
in helmand province for us. we've got it. we're here. i think that the strategic partnership you refer to in the beginning between the afghanistan and the coalition has had some challenges. the two big ones are obviously night raids and the tension operations. i think that the president of afghanistan has been working very hard to cut out night raids. what we have done in order to satisfy that desire by the president is, in effect, we have taken u.s. forces out of the actual conduct of the night raids and put them in an adviser trainer role. so helmand province we will conduct night raids almost every night.
we're still doing night raids. we're doing night raids with commandos. we're doing night raids with the narcotics interdiction unit that was mentioned earlier. in fact, we just had -- we had a raid several months ago where it was done by the niu. it was advised and trained by a couple of dea agents that were with them. that's how we're doing the night raids. we're not conducting them anymore. we're just in a supervisory/adviser role. as far as the tension operations, i think that's the one that's going to be the bigger challenge. and the problem is we've got insurgents in the tension operations that can't -- do not fall under the criminal investigative line. and so it's difficult for us to allow those insurgents to just turn them over to the afghan government. because one of the areas that
still requires continued attention is rule of law. and the whole system, from criminal investigation all the way to prosecution and detention, that's working. it's in progress. but it's not complete. so till that's really established, i think it's dangerous to turn it over, detention operations completely to the afghans. but we're working closely. this strategic partnership is impacted by some of those sensitive issues. >> i see. thanks very much. yes, in the front. >> general, thanks for the great introduction and speech. my question is what percentage of officers from the southern pashtun community, because that's an issue that always came
up. second one is usually taliban have a shadow governor in each province. do they have a shadow governor? and do they have any operations? not on the military level but on a social level? justice and other things they use to doing those things? thanks. >> no, good questions. unfortunately, in the afghan national army, the percentage of pashtuns that are serving, for example, the 215th corps, which is the corps responsible for southwest region, is probably less than about 15%. culturally the pashtuns, particularly the pashtuns that come out of helmand province, they don't look to the army for employment. we have been trying hard to bring more into the army.
in the 215th corps, corps commander and three brigade commanders. two of the brigade commanders are pashtuns, which is very good. and they're from helmand. the corps commander unfortunately, though, is from pataki, and he's not pashtun. and the other is a tajik. so it would be better if there were more. but, really what we're trying to focus our attention on is the afghan uniform police. because they -- really, we realize, are the center of gravity. if we're going to make a difference, if we're going to keep the support of nationals, the police are the ones that are going to control the populations, support the populations in the helmand river valley. the army, the intent, is for the army to leave. and we're currently doing that
right now. to leave the populated areas and move out into the further reaches of helmand and nimruz province. so that their focus becomes the borders. and the police focus becomes the populated centers. and in the police, that's where you find the pashtun. that's where you find the locals who are taking responsibility for their homes. it's very interesting because the average pashtun does not want to leave home. for us as americans, it's tough to realize that for some of these guys who joined the police, if there's a threat they might not be able to stay in nari surag and they might move to kanishin in the south, i don't want to do that. we have to understand that and respect that. but that is a challenge. is they don't like leaving home.
home is home. but i think that's what we're trying to do. make sure pashtun are in the police. and the afghan army move out of the populated centers. we're not at that point yet where the police are conducting as i mentioned earlier criminal investigations, collecting evidence, doing the paperwork. it's still a work in progress. so the -- and the police are still working through a history of corruption. the local people still are hesitant. so the army's playing a strong role. they are pretty well respected. but we're working through that stage of moving the army out and having the police do more of law enforcement rather than combat operations. but that's where the local home grown pashtuns are going to focus their efforts. >> yes, question in the back. >> good morning, general.
i'm originally from afghanistan. i work as a subject matter expert at the marine university in quantico, virginia. welcome back home. it's a very good presentation. very motivational. i mean, we -- for a long time, we saw good news coming from home. so what -- how do we convince the american public? how do we send these images into the american media so that we can convince them to stay committed to -- or have some more patience to -- in this fight against terror? thank you. >> well, i guess that's one reason why i'm on this tour here for the next ten days, is to get around and try and get the word out to a variety of different people. i also -- i told the marines that -- folks that just left afghanistan. i've had conversations with the commanders.
conversations to try and explain to them, you know, what they've accomplished. because it's difficult sometimes for them to put the whole picture together. so as a leader, my junior leaders, their job to sort of put that picture together. hey, you did a great job down here. but what's the bigger picture? and so showing them how -- you know, i was very disappointed with an article that was written. i forget who wrote it. somebody wrote an article called "roads to nowhere." and i wanted to write an article but i was, you know, in afghanistan. i mean, those roads are critically important. many counterinsurgent experts told you the insurgency begin where the roads end. being able to give people jobs and build a value change in the agriculture industry. that was what it was all about. but the individual marines, thousands and thousands of
soldiers and marines and sailors that have served in afghanistan. when they are told and understand the picture, they're the best salesmen on what they've accomplished in afghanistan. not to mention the fact that obviously, as you -- i mean, statistics and kinetic reductions and percentages, i can give you all those. it's dramatic. it's impressive when you look at what was going on and what the news media called a festering sore of afghanistan. you saw pictures of marjah. it's a bustling area. i've brought congressmen, senators. anybody, i brought them and walked them right down the market square slick with no armor, nothing. so, i mean, there's still stories that need to come back. but i also understand -- and we're sensitive to the fact -- and individual marines and soldiers and s.e.a.l.s are sensitive to the fact that
they've got to maintain the highest levels of standards in afghanistan. because the impact of negative press, the impact of, you know, a marine or soldier being shot by an afghan soldier or police officer has a powerful impact. and there could be 100 great stories and that one. so, again, i think it's a matter of us, one, making sure we maintain, we keep our honor clean. we maintain the highest standards as we're operating in afghanistan. and when we come back, we're informed enough to be able to explain to people that, hey, you know, we really did make some great progress. and i think that will probably work it. here's a bottom line for me though. there's been a lot of sacrifices
made in afghanistan and iraq. in helmand province, for example, the casualties for u.s. forces has dropped dramatically. butt casualties on the afghan side has increased dramatically. it shows the fact that, yes, the afghans are now in the lead in many of the districts and they're responsible for the security. but those sacrifices are important and we owe both the afghan and the coalition force sacrifices, we owe it to them to make sure we stay the course because we're making great progress. it's not perfect. they tried to bring up some of the hiccups, but it's on track, it's moving. so hopefully between the discussions that we have and others, we'll get some supporters to stay the course.